A Robotic Claw to Study Jellyfish — Without Squishing Them
Professor David F. Gruber, a Baruch College marine biologist with a passion for using modern technology in the underwater world, wanted to find a way to study jellyfish and other deep-sea creatures without harming the delicate soft-bodied creatures in the process.
Gruber and a team of engineers and marine scientists developed a robot called the RAD (rotary actuated dodecahedron) sampler: a 3D-printed, robotic claw that can fold itself like origami into a 12-sided enclosure around a jellyfish or other organism in its natural habitat. “The dream is to enclose a delicate deep-sea animal, take 3D imagery that includes properties like hardness, 3D print that animal at the surface, and also have a “toothbrush” tickle the organism to obtain its full genome,” says Gruber.
Currently, the scientists have shown that the RAD can safely capture and release organisms at a depth of 2,300 feet. “It is designed to be able to withstand pressures at even the deepest places in the ocean, like the Marianas Trench, at 36,070 feet deep,” says Gruber.
“The hope is to describe new species and learn and interact with the deep-sea as non-invasively as possible,” he says. Gruber and his team have previously discovered dozens of unique biofluorescent compounds, several of which have been developed into tools to discover better cancer drugs.
Explore This Work
Rotary-actuated folding polyhedrons for midwater investigation of delicate marine organisms
Science Robotics, 2018
Images and videos of the RAD Sampler in action (Wyss Institute at Harvard University)
Don’t Squish the Jellyfish. Capture It With a Folding Robotic Claw (The New York Times)